Image: Ralph "Bucky" Phillips
Don Heupel  /  AP
Ralph "Bucky" Phillips, center, appears at his hearing with prosecuting attorney David Foley, left, and  defense attorney Richard Rich, right, in the Chautauqua County Courthouse in Mayville, N.Y., Wednesday.
updated 11/30/2006 2:09:43 PM ET 2006-11-30T19:09:43

A day after swaggering into court and admitting killing one state trooper and wounding two others, a former fugitive pleaded guilty Thursday to a jail escape that led to the largest manhunt in state history.

“Guilty as hell,” Ralph “Bucky” Phillips said when asked by a judge how he wished to plead.

In a repeat of court appearances Wednesday, Phillips was upbeat, smiling and waving to supporters on his way in and out of the courtroom.

The 44-year-old career criminal broke out of a Buffalo-area jail in April by using an industrial can opener to cut a hole in the kitchen ceiling and eluded authorities for months. Phillips finally surrendered Sept. 8, emerging from a field near the New York-Pennsylvania line with his hands up as police closed in.

Phillips pleaded guilty Wednesday to murder and attempted murder for shooting two troopers in an ambush outside his ex-girlfriend’s home Aug. 31. Hours before that plea, he pleaded guilty to attempted murder in the shooting of another trooper during a traffic stop.

Phillips is expected to spend his life in prison after sentencing Dec. 19 and Dec. 20.

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